A request for a change of venue was denied Friday in the case of a Lake Village man accused of the May 2012 beating death of then Chicot County Tax Collector Nell Johnson.

Brooks, 50, says he cannot get a fair trial in Chicot County due to pretrial publicity and the victim’s standing in the community. He is charged with capital murder, aggravated residential burglary and aggravated robbery in the death of the 73-year-old county tax collector.

At a Friday morning hearing at the Chicot County Courthouse where the victim worked before her death, Circuit Judge Sam Pope denied Brooks’ motion without prejudice, meaning Brooks can refile the motion if he gathers more information supporting his request.

Nell Johnson

Johnson’s body was discovered in her home on May 3, 2012 after she failed to show up for work. She died of blunt force trauma to her head.

Brooks, the father of Johnson’s granddaughter-in-law, was arrested on June 11 by Chicot County Sheriff Ron Nichols and State Police.

At Brooks’ bond hearing last year, prosecutors presented what they believe to be key DNA evidence showing Brooks’ presence in Johnson’s home at the time of the murder. His DNA was found on a cigarette butt discovered in a toilet at Johnson’s home and both his and Johnson’s DNA was on a pair of gloves discovered near her home, 10th Judicial District Deputy Prosecutor David Cason said in a July 2012 interview.